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Established in 1979 as a research collaboration between Mahidol University (Thailand), Oxford University (UK) and the UK's Wellcome Trust, the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) conducts targeted clinical trials and public health research that aim to discover and develop appropriate, affordable interventions that measurably improve the health of people living in resource-limited parts of the world.

Moru field

The Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit's main office and laboratories are located within the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, with MORU Units, study sites and collaborations across Thailand, Asia and Africa.

The core of MORU’s activities remains patient-centred clinical research, and the laboratory, mathematical and economic modelling work, and academic and logistical activities needed to support this.

Our geographically dispersed but integrated network afford us the ability to answer important public health questions in the resource-limited settings in which we work:

  • What are the best ways to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the prevalent infectious and nutritional diseases?
  • How can the survival of critically ill patients in these settings be improved?

Antimicrobial drug resistance in pathogenic bacteria and malaria parasites has reached crisis point in Southeast Asia. MORU works to determine:

  • How can we best treat patients infected with resistant pathogens?
  • What is the best way to reduce antibiotic usage and thus the selective pressure on bacteria?
  • What are the most ethical and effective tools and strategies to use in malaria elimination campaigns?
  • What are the most prevalent acute febrile illnesses, their causes and most effective treatments?
  • How can we improve medicine quality?

MORU’s work has led to strong and lasting collaborations with governments, international health agencies, hospitals, academic colleagues and communities across the globe, and supported the education and professional development of local health staff and medical researchers.

An Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) for the UK’s Open University, MORU hosts post-graduate and post-doctoral students from the University of Oxford (UK), Mahidol University (Thailand) and several other universities from across the globe.

MORU is generously supported with significant funding from the Wellcome Trust, our major funding partner. We also receive funding from other trusts and foundations, governments, and multi-lateral donors.

MORU Researchers

MORU Research Highlights

  • Scrub typhus point-of-care testing

    Posted 15/05/2018. Kartika Karaswati, Stuart Blacksell and colleagues reviewed the diagnostic accuracy of the available scrub typhus point-of-care tests, feasible to be used in resource limited settings. Although the available evidence is varied in methodology and quality, POCTs appear to have low false positive rates, thus confidence in interpreting a positive result can be high.

  • The ethics of using placebo in randomised controlled trials

    Posted 08/05/2018. Is it ethical to withhold a recommended treatment from a patient in clinical trial? In this paper we evaluate whether exchanging placebo for an active drug is ethical. We use the example of a randomised control trial of primaquine to determine its anti-relapse efficacy against vivax malaria and conclude that in some cases a placebo arm is imperative.

  • Primaquine pharmacokinetics in lactating women and breastfed infant exposures

    Posted 25/04/2018. Mary-Ellen Gilder and colleagues at SMRU demonstrate low levels of primaquine in breast milk, findings that should change treatment policy allowing more breastfeeding women to be cured of P.vivax. This will potentially reduce the global burden of this infection which has significant negative consequences for pregnant mothers and infants.

  • Study analyses antimicrobial resistance surveillance networks in LMICs

    Posted 10/04/2018. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to public health. A new report by Elizabeth Ashley and colleagues describes the role of supranational networks in AMR surveillance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); Liz Ashley and colleagues analysed networks that were in existence between January 2000 and August 2017. This study reveals the challenges of establishing sustainable and effective networks to tackle resistance to antimicrobial medicines.